When you're driving along picturesque Clear Creek Canyon in the winter you'll see some fascinating frozen flows of water, and people climbing them. No matter your experience level, the Golden area is a great place to climb. According to Golden Mountain Guides, the ice in Clear Creek Canyon normally forms up near the end of December and stays climbable until late February/early March.
Golden has knowledgeable guides to assist beginners and experienced ice climbers alike. Ice climbing is inherently dangerous. Conditions are ever changing and it is your responsibility to assess hazards, back up anchors, etc. With that being said, try these places!
Front Range Ice
Clear Creek Canyon: Good Front Range ice is tough to come by, but Clear Creek Canyon has a number of flows that provide decent climbing minutes from Golden. The most popular areas in Clear Creek Canyon include Coors Lite Area, Mickey's Big Mouth, and the Beer Garden.
- Coors Lite: Accessed via US6 from Golden, drive up the canyon approximately 5.8 miles to a dirt pullout on the left-hand side of the road. The ice is accessed from the trail on the south side of the canyon, directly across the creek from the parking area. Coors Lite consists of 2 quality pitches of ice. The first pitch is WI2 up three distinct steps for approximately 100 feet. If your second is shaky, it is best to break this pitch up so you can see your partner. The second pitch is the money pitch and goes at WI3 for 40 feet on almost vertical ice. There are bolted belays on top of each pitch (lookers right).
- Mickey's Big Mouth: Accessed via US6 from Golden, drive up the canyon approximately 5.8 miles to a dirt pullout on the left-hand side of the road. Hike west along the road until you see the ice. 2 pitches of WI2+ ice take you to the top of this flow. There is a little bit of a hike between pitch 1 and 2. Bolted anchors at the top of each pitch.
- Beer Garden: Accessed via US6 from Golden, drive up the canyon approximately 2.8 miles. The ice is on the left-hand side of the road. Be careful crossing the stream to access this flow. 1 pitch of WI2 ice. There is a slung tree at the top of this route for rappelling/top-roping.
Required Gear List from Golden Mountain Guides
- Ice tools. New tools are leashless and come in a variety of different styles. Good beginner tools are the CASSIN X-All Mountain Tools
- Mountaineering boots. A good pair of boots is essential to enjoy ice climbing. Remember to always size up your boots 1/2 to 1 full size to accommodate toe warmers, thick socks, and have room to wiggle your toes for warmth.
- Ice screws
- Ice clippers
- Personal climbing kit (including belay device, locking carabiners, rescue/bail gear, anchor material)
- Dynamic climbing rope (9.2 - 9.8 mm is a great size workhorse ice rope)
- 2 pairs of gloves: 1 thick belay pair & 1 thinner climbing pair